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review 2020-04-26 21:04
DARK CELEBRATIONS by Calvin Demmer
Dark Celebrations - Calvin Demmer

 

Having been totally knocked out by Demmer's THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER, (it was my favorite collection of 2019), I jumped at the chance to read his latest, DARK CELEBRATIONS. I don't regret it for an instant!

 

In this volume, which tells tales of celebrations and/or holidays from around the world, I found a wide variety on offer, and most of them worked well for me. My favorites were:

 

THREE DEAD MEN captivated me because it went nowhere near where I thought it was going. Think Kill Bill with mummies. That's right...mummies!

 

SPRING OUTBREAK was another tale that ran in the opposite from my preconceived notions. Picture spring break with zombies. That's right...zombies!

 

PROM SCREAMS had me thinking the main character was a real jerk and that he should just own up to what happened. I also found myself thinking about Charlene ,(Charlie), McGee and what could have happened to her later in life. (If you don't know who she is, look her up!) This story lead to so many different thoughts, I have to leave it there. I dug this one a lot!

 

UNIDENTIFIED FATHERLY OBJECT had cool ties to the earlier stories and that I enjoyed. It was a bit out there, (I WANT TO BELIEVE), just as the title suggests.

 

INDEPENDENCE DENIED: I was captivated because of its Lovecraftian feel. In the times we're in now, I wouldn't be surprised at all if natural disasters started to surge. It seems like that would be a perfect fit for the apocalyptic-feeling with which COVID19 has blanketed us. At the same time, this tale was entertaining enough to make me forget about that for a while and I'm thankful to Mr. Demmer for the brief escape.

 

The only reservation I had with this collection is that the first few stories didn't pique my interest as much as the later ones did. That could be because, admittedly, my expectations were high. It all worked out though, as for me, the stories got better and better until the phenomenal last act of INDEPENDENCE DENIED.

 

Once again Calvin Demmer wows us with a set of tales that are thoughtful, dark, sometimes funny, sometimes gory, and sometimes homages to H.P. himself. Once again, I found myself enthralled, most especially in the later stories, and I was happy to turn myself over to be thoroughly entertained.

 

Recommended!

 

Get your copy here: DARK CELEBRATIONS

 

*Thank you to Calvin Demmer for the paperback in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* (less)

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review 2020-04-08 21:35
AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF by Stephen Graham Jones
After the People Lights Have Gone Off - Stephen Graham Jones

There are hundreds of reviews and ratings for AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF and there's not much I can add to what's already been said.

 

I love how this man writes and his powers of description. It takes concentration to properly read his prose and during this time of near constant distraction, (there's a pandemic going on), the fact that he captured my attention and held it, really says something.

 

There's a ton of variety here, my favorites being DOC'S STORY, SECOND CHANCES, THE SPINDLY MAN, UNCLE and THE SPIDERBOX. There's also an excellent introduction from Joe R. Lansdale, wherein he talks about some of his favorite stories.

 

I enjoyed the hell out of this collection and maybe it's just the thing to distract you during this uncertain time?

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF

 

*I bought this paperback with my hard-earned cash. *

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review 2019-12-20 18:45
JIMMY THE FREAK by Charles Colyott & Mark Steensland
Jimmy the Freak - Pete Kahle,Charles Colyott,Mark Steensland

My heart swelled until it exploded. ALL. THE. STARS.

 

Jimmy fell on his head as a child and his life was never the same after that. He needs someone to keep an eye on him. At times, he's so child-like, he brings that sense of wonder to everyone around him. At other times, he just wants his pizza, (every day), and he can be difficult if he doesn't get what he wants. Jimmy is a hot commodity, though. That fall on his head is credited, (by Jimmy's friend, Mike), for a special ability Jimmy possesses. What is that ability, you ask? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

JIMMY THE FREAK is my favorite type of dark fiction story. It has complicated, in-depth characters. As a novella, it has to make every word count, so it has brevity. Lastly, (and perhaps most importantly, for me) it has poignancy. I fell in love with Jimmy and I bet you will too.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: JIMMY THE FREAK

 

*Thank you to Mark Steensland for the e-copy of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2019-12-01 17:57
A Sick Gray Laugh by Nicole Cushing
A Sick Gray Laugh - Nicole Cushing

WTH did I just read? I don't even know!

 

I can say that I liked it, that it was literary and that it was beautifully written. There were deep, dark, and gray ideas explored. If I had to put labels on it, (which is difficult to do), I'd use these:

 

metafiction

dark humor

weird tales

somewhat nihilistic

dense

 

 

 

After reading a few other reviews once I was finished, it seems that my favorite part was the least favorite part of others, and that was the middle. The first and third portions were more involved with Noelle's, (Nicole's?), life, discoveries, and aspirations whereas the second portion focused on a cult-like veil-wearing group traveling to the U.S. by ship and then onward towards the Midwest. The New Moses and his group made for fascinating reading and I was sorry when the author moved on.

 

Overall, I did enjoy this compelling piece of fiction, but I will admit to the fact that my mind did wander a bit, especially during the first and third parts. Did I like it? YES! Do I recommend it? YES! Was it my favorite work of fiction from Nicole Cushing, no-but that's ok.

 

I never know what to expect when I read her work, but I ALWAYS know that it's going to be original, well written, and that it will make me think.

 

As I said above: Recommended! Get your copy here: A SICK GRAY LAUGH

 

*Thank you to Nicole Cushing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-11-15 17:30
WATER FOR DROWNING by Ray Cluley, narrated by RJ Bayley
Water for Drowning - Ray Cluley,John Bayley

Who doesn't love a good mermaid story?

 

Josh is the lead singer in a band, so attracting women is usually not a problem for him. One night a beautiful young woman named Genna makes a request of the band, and before you know it, Josh and Genna are a couple. Genna has some strange habits, (namely an obsession with mermaids), but despite that Josh begins to fall for her. What happens next? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I won this on audio from This Is Horror by entering a Twitter giveaway. I actually bought this book back on Halloween day in 2014, (*hanging my head in shame*), I just haven't had the time to read it. Now, I'm actually glad though, because I really dug the voicing and the accent of the narrator RJ Bayley.

 

Not gonna lie, the main character is pretty much a jerk throughout most of this tale, but the fact that he actually fell for Genna turned me around. The denouement was haunting and left the reader to deal with their own feelings about the outcome. I will be wondering about Genna and the mermaids for some time to come, I think. 

 

A second story was included, SHARK, SHARK which was twisty and funny,  but I think WATER FOR DROWNING stole the show. 

 

I highly recommend this novella length book, especially the audio version!

 

Get your copy here: WATER FOR DROWNING

 

*Thanks to This is Horror for the free audio download with no strings attached! I voluntarily chose to honestly review it. *

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